An energetic but familiar New Age sci-fi/fantasy adventure.

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THE GOD VIRUS

In this debut novel, a young, bright, and good-looking creative worker at a video game company copes with New York City after a recent breakup.

Depressed, pressured by his bosses at Enigmatic Adventures, and alone except for his cat, Norton, Derek Evans decides to sign up for a medical study of a new antidepressant pill. But it seems that the study is fraudulent, conducted by a dubious figure named Harry Pembroke, who is murdered right after Derek ingests the drug. And as Derek tries to return to his everyday life, taking an interest in his lovely co-worker Allie “G” Giancana, the “God Virus” concealed in the experimental medicine takes hold in his DNA. As his DNA is altered, Derek finds himself changing in incredible ways—out-of-body experiences, telepathy, and more all become regular occurrences as his ordinary humanity is replaced with extraordinary new skills. Allie becomes infected with the “God Virus” through contact with Derek, and they both discover that Pembroke was killed by dangerous people in the underworld and intelligence communities who want these new abilities only for themselves. The easiest way to steal these powers is to extract them from Derek’s and Allie’s brains by force—but that won’t be easy now that they are superhuman. The conflict escalates and more and greater cosmic (and sometimes comic) revelations await on every page. Somewhat picaresque, with hints of Tom Robbins here and there, Voyager’s tale is fast-paced and has many entertaining moving parts. The characters and dialogue are fun despite being somewhat glib. While the subject matter will be recognizable to anyone exposed to “self-actualization” belief systems, this does not ultimately detract from the action in the story. But Voyager sometimes indulges in mystically tweaking the reader (“Lying against a dune, Derek and Allie lounged in the sand, wordlessly chatted, and ate”). And connections between the New Age idea of “indigo children”—“becoming indigo” in the novel—and the author’s pseudonym can be overly direct.

An energetic but familiar New Age sci-fi/fantasy adventure.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5192-4887-9

Page Count: 424

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2017

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An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.

RECURSION

In Crouch’s sci-fi–driven thriller, a machine designed to help people relive their memories creates apocalyptic consequences.

In 2018, NYPD Detective Barry Sutton unsuccessfully tries to talk Ann Voss Peters off the edge of the Poe Building. She claims to have False Memory Syndrome, a bewildering condition that seems to be spreading. People like Ann have detailed false memories of other lives lived, including marriages and children, but in “shades of gray, like film noir stills.” For some, like Ann, an overwhelming sense of loss leads to suicide. Barry knows loss: Eleven years ago, his 15-year-old daughter, Meghan, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Details from Ann’s story lead him to dig deeper, and his investigation leads him to a mysterious place called Hotel Memory, where he makes a life-altering discovery. In 2007, a ridiculously wealthy philanthropist and inventor named Marcus Slade offers neuroscientist Helena Smith the chance of a lifetime and an unlimited budget to build a machine that allows people to relive their memories. He says he wants to “change the world.” Helena hopes that her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, will benefit from her passion project. The opportunity for unfettered research is too tempting to turn down. However, when Slade takes the research in a controversial direction, Helena may have to destroy her dream to save the world. Returning to a few of the themes he explored in Dark Matter (2016), Crouch delivers a bullet-fast narrative and raises the stakes to a fever pitch. A poignant love story is woven in with much food for thought on grief and the nature of memories and how they shape us, rounding out this twisty and terrifying thrill ride.

An exciting, thought-provoking mind-bender.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-5978-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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